MetalMatters May 2022

MetalMatters: The Best New Metal Albums of May 2022

The unexpected return of Cave In, the dissonant revenge of Blut Aus Nord, and the brutal stampede of Predatory Light arrive to haunt our days in the best new metal.

As we are getting into the summer, the best new metal of May had an abundance of dark music to provide. From the industrial machinations of Luminous Vault, This Is Oblivion, and Hold Me Down, to the extreme doom glory of Mournful Congregation and Assumption. On the cosmic side of extreme metal, Cosmic Putrefaction continue to dazzle with their epic vision, Tómarúm make an excellent introduction to their progressive black metal take, and Haunter relish in their progressive black/death onslaught. That and much more in this month’s feature so dig in!  – Spyros Stasis

Assumption – Hadean Tides (Sentient Ruin / Everlasting Spew)

Assumption - Hadean Tides

Doom-death is a densely populated scene these days, mainly because its crawling tempos enable death metal riffs to unfurl into these all-consuming, imposing behemoths. Italy’s Assumption stand out among many both by excelling at the basics of the genre and spicing up the genre’s flavor.

Their abyssal growls and grumbling riffs are huge as they steadily flow along a thundering rhythmic foundation, only to be suddenly broken up, sped up, or even further slowed down. Throughout the first five cuts, there is an imposing dynamism at work, maintaining tension, dispelling any notion of monotony, and building towards an excellent, albeit slightly traditional first part of the album.

Enter “Triptych”. With lengthy sections built around a patient dialogue between clean spoken word and sparse, punctuating instrumentation—as if Nick Cave met with the Mount Fuji DoomJazz Corporation—it’s the strangest cut I’ve run into on a death metal record since avant-metallers Chaos Echœs split-up. That a song such as this one appears in the middle of a roaring doom-death record is a miracle in itself, that it works so well and smoothly grows into a monstrous monolith is even more so. And as it reaches its end and you begin to wonder what could they possibly follow up with, Assumption go full funeral doom, almost crawling to a halt on the deep-hitting “Black Trees Waving”. Exquisite stuff. – Antonio Poscic

Blut Aus Nord – Disharmonium: Undreamable Abysses (Debemur Morti)

Blut Aus Nord - Disharmonium

In 2019, Blut Aus Nord opened up a new gateway with Hallucinogen. The legendary French act has been known for pivoting between styles, genres, and moods. From primordial black metal chaos to industrial precision, from dark ambient influences to post-metal leanings, Blut Aus Nord have retained a boundless scope. That was further illustrated with Hallucinogen, a work that found them injecting a psychedelic element alongside a distinctly melodic aspiration. In many ways, this combination made Hallucinogen probably the most easy-listening experiment Blut Aus Nord have ever conducted. Now, Disharmonium: Undreamable Abysses comes to invert this process.

In many ways, Disharmonium is the mirror image of Hallucinogen. The common thread running through both records is of course the psychedelic element. There is a haze that defines the work, an otherworldly sense that hovers over the blackened core. On one side Blut Aus Nord set the ritualistic foundations, either in the form of ambient interludes as with “Chants of the Deep Ones” or more complete offerings. “Keziah Mason” and “The Apotheosis of the Unnamable” both relish this perfect grandeur, setting the foundations for this unearthly procession. From there on it is a circular progression, relentless and unending. “Tales of the Old Dreamer” stands out in this light, making it feel as if the entire cosmos is devouring itself. And in an even more aggressive approach, “Neptune’s Eye” creates a dizzying effect through its direct black metal (blastbeats included) demeanor.

But, what is key here is the dissonance. In the same way that melody defined Hallucinogen, it is the dissonance that defines Disharmonium. So here, instead of the dreamy allusions, there is a poison IV straight into your veins. Again “Tales of the Old Dreamer” truly shines in that regard, the lead work mirroring the screams of the great old ones. “Into the Woods” combines the eerie black metal essence with the bitter psychedelia, melting the two together on top of an almost krautrock progression, something Blut Aus Nord also evoke in “That Cannot Be Dreamed”. It’s this quality that completes the inverted, distorted mirror image of Hallucinogen for Blut Aus Nord. In the process, they have spawned one of their greatest and darkest moments. – Spyros Stasis

Cave In – Heavy Pendulum (Relapse)

Cave In - Heavy Pendulum

In 2019 all signs suggested that the end was nigh for Cave In. Following the tragic death of Caleb Scofield, the remaining members with the aid of Converge/Doomriders legend Nate Newton put together Final Transmission. Following on the tradition that started with 2011’s White Silence, Cave In continued to merge past and present. Early days post-hardcore elements combine with the space rock and emotive alternative take of Jupiter. But, Cave In have never been an act to endlessly repeat themselves, and so Heavy Pendulum, the band’s first album in more than a decade, takes a different direction.

For starters, this is probably the heavier album Cave In have released. Not in terms of how extreme it is, but just its sheer weight. “New Reality” kicks things off with this sludge urge, the extreme vocals spurring this metallic push. “Amaranthine” sees a similar mentality, moving closer to the energy of acts like Doomriders. However, the excellent application here is the spaced-out tonality. Cave In have infused the sludge weight with the psychedelic essence that defined Jupiter, in the process creating something distinct. This mode leads to moments of beautiful melodies in “Blood Spiller” and “Nightmare Eyes”. It also moves the entire endeavor towards a heavy rock paradigm, making much of Heavy Pendulum shine with a 1970s quality. “Careless Offering” and “Searchers of Hell” are both excellent examples of this approach. 

The common threads that have defined Cave In are still present. The main is their emotive underpinnings. No matter if they choose to explode into post-hardcore outbursts, explore the space rock scene or unleash direct alternative rock, it is the sentiment that has always defined them. Here, they dazzle in this quality, especially in the record’s longer tracks. “Blinded By a Blaze” first unveils this quality with Brodsky’s vocals standing alongside the solitary guitar.

When the final opus, “Wavering Angel” unfolds, then everything clicks together. The delicate, ethereal aspect, the trip through the majesty of the cosmos, and the Thin Lizzy-infused double lead guitars are just spectacular. It is such moments that make Heavy Pendulum excel. So, Cave In have returned. They are not exactly the same, they are more rugged from the journey, but some things have not changed. And that is for the best. – Spyros Stasis

Cosmic Putrefaction – Crepuscular Dirge For the Blessed Ones (Profound Lore)

Cosmic Putrefaction - Crepuscular Dirge For the Blessed Ones

It is common knowledge that death metal has always looked outwards. The progressive inclinations of Death, and the jazz fusions of Cynic and Atheist are all testaments that have stood the test of time. In recent years, however, it seems like it is the alien experimentations of Nocturnus, and in particular their debut record The Key that has captivated the scene. It is the combination of the brutal and complex with the otherworldly and off-kilter. It is amongst its spawns that we find some of the most accomplished acts of the current scene, like Blood Incantation. It’s in this same mold where Cosmic Putrefaction belong. Having already released two very promising works through I, Voidhanger in At the Threshold of the Greatest Chasm and The Horizons Towards Which Splendor Withers, the one-man project of Gabriele Gramaglia now completes the trifecta with Crepuscular Dirge For the Blessed Ones.

On the surface, Cosmic Putrefaction unleash brutal and uncompromising death metal. The guttural stench hits immediately through the introduction of “…Through Withered Horizons”, and it is only the beginning. They go straight for the jugular, with brutality merging with a high technical aptitude in tracks like “From Resounding Silence to the Obsidian Womb” and “Sol’s Upheaval Debris”. It only becomes more maddening and erratic as the record unfolds, the progression of “Amniotic Bewilderment” unraveling through this aggressive take, seeing a Demilich-like infusion settling. This is where a closer listen reveals a bit more. Suddenly the heavy riffs subside, clean passages coming into view. It is an eerie presence at first, fully blooming with “Twisting Spirals in the Murk”, and yet it goes beyond the merely creepy. Because it is the psychedelic injections Cosmic Putrefaction perform that elevate their work. “Sol’s Upheaval Debris” sees this aspect coupled with a melancholic tinge, while “From Resounding Silence To The Obsidian Womb” completes the ride to this alien field. 

The intergalactic trip carries on, while the off-kilter wealth keeps on giving. The synthesizers here come together beautifully, with Cosmic Putrefaction expanding their use, achieving a grand manifestation. This adherence to detail comes a long way, making the concept of Crepuscular Dirge For the Blessed Ones feel that much more precious. Piano lines in “Cradle Wrecked, Curtains Unfurled” freely reveal emotion, chants, and clean vocals through “From Resounding Silence to the Obsidian Womb” and “Lysergic Sulfuric Waters” expand on the majesty. These all work together under the great ambition of Gramaglia, reaching the absolute crescendo in the closing title track. It is a final statement to what is already known: Cosmic Putrefaction have arrived. – Spyros Stasis

God Mother – Obeveklig (Independent)

God Mother - Obeveklig

It’s great to see a band that you enjoyed make a sudden return. Back in 2017, God Mother unleashed a very promising work in Vilseledd. The post-hardcore act from Sweden was combining all the right sounds in the right manner. The hardcore punk was there and the post-hardcore aggression of the ‘00s with all its complexity and layering was present. As well as some further additions, in a slight blackened twist and some grindcore outbreaks. And now, after a five-year-long silence, they return with their new EP, Obevekling.

As its name states, this is relentless work. Cloaking in under ten minutes, God Mother frantically alter through various modes. Channeling Converge circa Jane Doe spirit and early Dillinger Escape Plan DNA, they wreak havoc with “Host Body” and “Teething”. Dissonant bends and lighting speed prevail. At the same time, the awkward groove of that era is there, proud as ever in “Tunnel Form”. God Mother occasionally travel to more obscure areas, the ending of the opener track taking a cue from the dark hardcore of their Scandinavian neighbors the Psyke Project. The punk ethos is still strong, either in a traditional outing, as with the D-beat introduction of “Di$ney Jail” or in the bastardized interpretation of “Köttkropp”.

It is good to see that God Mother still have the same urge and potency with Obevekling. Due to the nature of the EP format, this is a condensed offering so they do not stretch too far outside the comfort zone. But given that they were unafraid to do that in the past, it will be interesting to see how they approach a new full-length release, and what novel they have to offer.  – Spyros Stasis